I would highly reccommed studying as much of the Japanese culture as possible.
As a Westerner, raised with "Western" reasoning, approaching Aikido was similar to walking on mars. The more I learn about the culture of "The East" in general, the more I feel that I've developed as an Aikidoka and martial artist.
This is just my opinion, possibly due to the the fact that I have been blessed with some very productive encounters.
An excellent book, "The Sword and the Brush," which defines the etemology of 40+ budo terms, should quell the harshest sceptic.
Sieger (My friends call me Sieger